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Legislature OKs bill on use of dead soldiers' names

A bill that would have Arizona join at least two other states in making it a crime to use a dead soldier’s name or photo for commercial purposes without family permission is headed to Gov. Janet Napolitano.

The House voted 57-0 May 21 to approve a bill (S1014) that the state Department of Emergency Management and Military Affairs sought in response to complaints from survivors of soldiers whose names have appeared on anti-war T-shirts sold on the Internet by a Flagstaff businessman, Dan Frazier. The Senate had previously passed it.

Like laws enacted last year in Oklahoma and Louisiana, the Arizona measure would make violations a misdemeanor.

In Arizona, violations would be punishable by up to six months in jail and fines up to $2,500 for an individual and $20,000 for an enterprise.

The Arizona measure also authorizes families to sue.

Frazier contends his T-shirts are political statements and that the legislation either enacted or under consideration in the various states violates his First Amendment rights to free speech.

He has urged Napolitano to veto the bill, which would take effect immediately if signed by the governor.

A Napolitano spokeswoman has declined to comment on whether Napolitano would sign the bill.

Lawmakers in Texas and Florida have passed bills on the issue. They await action by those states’ governors.

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